Meal preparation, food safety during a power failure

Sandra R. Cain For Better Living

This time of year, we are very likely to have afternoon thunderstorms in which we lose power. After a power failure, you might not have air conditioning, heat, refrigeration, or water. To prepare food when you have no power, follow these guidelines:

• If you have limited heat for cooking, choose foods that cook quickly. Prepare casseroles and one-dish meals, or serve no-cook foods.

• If you can’t use your stove, you can use:

– Outside grill, either charcoal or gas.

– Candle warmer, such as a fondue pot. Do not use a candle warmer to cook raw meats, fish, poultry, and eggs.

– Camp stove- Never use a fuel-burning camp stove or charcoal burner inside your home, even in a fireplace. Fumes from these stoves can be deadly.

• Do not cook frozen foods because they require much more cooking time and heat than canned goods.

• Eat commercially canned foods straight from the can. Do not eat home canned meats and vegetables unless you can boil them for 10 minutes before eating.

• Substitute liquids from canned vegetables for water in unsweetened cooked dishes.

• Substitute juice from canned fruits for water in salads and beverages.

• All water from questionable sources that will be used in food preparation must be boiled for at least 10 minutes before use.

• If you are without refrigeration, open only enough cans or jars of food for one meal. Leftover food in jars and cans cannot be saved.

• If necessary, substitute canned and powdered milk for fresh milk.

• Prepare and eat foods in their original containers, if possible.

If you keep the door closed, food in most freezers will stay below 40° F for up to 3 days, even in summer. Thawing rate depends on:

• The amount of food in the freezer.

• The kind of food.

• The temperature of the food.

• The freezer.

• The size of freezer.

You may safely re-freeze foods that still contain ice crystals or that have been kept at 40° F or below.

Source: North Carolina State University


Honey Mustard Pork Chops

1/3 cup Dijon mustard

¼ cup cider vinegar

¼ cup honey

2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce

1 tablespoon reduced-sodium chicken broth

1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon ground ginger

6 boneless pork loin chops (3/4 inch thick)

In a small bowl, combine the first 8 ingredients. Pour half of the marinade into a large resealable bag. Add pork chops. Seal bag and turn to coat. Refrigerate for 6 – 8 hours or overnight. Cover and refrigerate remaining marinade for basting.

Coat grill rack with cooking spray before starting grill. Drain and discard marinade. Grill pork, uncovered, over medium heat for 4-5 minutes on each side or until a meat thermometer reads 160 degrees, basting frequently with reserved marinade.

Sandra R. Cain is the Bladen County Extension director. She can be reached at or 910-862-4591.

Sandra R. Cain For Better Living R. Cain For Better Living